While it wasn't the bloodbath that we saw last weekend the perception of Pac-10 really didn't change for the better either on Saturday. ASU was absolutely manhandled by UGA,;Oregon, using a freshman QB, lost at home to Boise State; and, ucla was dominated by Arizona without scoring an offensive TD for the second straight game.
With play like that it's no wonder the Pac-10 takes a poll beating year in and year out.
For the most part I like Ted Miller's work but his piece Saturday night was a little too much of "the sky is falling" for me.
All Pac-10 fans should be embarrassed, but USC fans should be worried.
It's hard to imagine an undefeated USC team would eclipse an unbeaten team from the SEC or Big 12, based on relative conference strength.
And if Georgia or Florida manages to lose only one game with their schedules, SEC heads will explode if they get left out.
Pete Carroll said it best when said we need to just worry about what we have to do and the rest will work itself out. If SC runs the table and does so convincingly then we go to Miami. If we struggle while running the table then it could get dicey but that is out of our hands. Lose a game, and we are back to the best thing being a trip to Pasadena to get over being out of the title chase.
As for the rest of the Pac-10, I am not really sure how to feel about the past two weeks. I understand the "support the conference" angle, not just for strength of schedule, but my heart just isn't in it. I am not actively rooting against our conference rivals (except for ucla) but I am not jumping up and cheering for them either. I guess I am simply ambivalent. It's easy to be that way when you read comments form other fans bashing SC for their success and then watch as they can't even take care of their own games or when expectations change mid-stream when you really see how bad a team is <cough>ucla<cough>.
Speaking of ucla, I don't expect things to get any better over there anytime soon either with what I read yesterday.
The "soft" commitment from Inglewood (Calif.) receiver Shaquelle Evans to USC is huge on several fronts. Not only are the Trojans getting one of the elite receivers in the West, it puts a dagger in to the heart of their cross-town rivals at UCLA.
Evans, 6-1, 205 pounds, told us just a few weeks ago UCLA was the leader for his signature. He grew up a Bruins fan and the coaches at UCLA were making Evans their top offensive recruit. While USC is loaded at receiver, the Bruins have lacked a big-play threat at the position for years and Evans was/is really the only elite national receiver they're currently in on.
Things changed dramatically with Evans following USC's demolition of Ohio State last weekend. The talented athlete was on the sidelines for the game, and the fact that the big win coincided with UCLA losing to BYU 59-0 pushed the Trojans over the top.
According to Evans' mother Kalisha, the commitment to USC is a soft one and Shaq will stay take his official visits with a final decision coming in January. He still plans to visit Notre Dame in two weeks with Cal and Colorado on the docket as well.
Saying that, it's difficult to envision Evans signing with anyone else other than USC. The receiver has developed a relationship with several of the Trojans commitments, including quarterback Matt Barkley. He said he likes the idea of staying close to home and the team on the field appears to be rolling toward yet another BCS Bowl.
I realize its early yet and the kid could change his mind and still sign with ucla, but if they can't lock up the one guy that is supposed to make their class then they are really in for a long haul. One player doesn't make make a recruiting class but you can't run around pushing your chest out over a "Dream Team" of coaches, only to have the supposed "BEST" D coordinator in the Pac-10 get torched for 59 points and then give 31 more the next week.
It's not that there's a mystery about it. The ucla defense was supposed to be the strong part of the team, but they are getting killed because the offense can't stay on the field or score points. Most people would concede that there wasn't much on offense for Chow to work with so most people will give him pass. I don't care what coaching staff you have: if you don't have the players the point is moot.
All this crap about the "monopoly being over" and how things are going to change has done one thing and one thing only...get ucla attention and not necessarily good attention. Your press office can make grandiose statements all you want but the team still needs to perform. I went back and listened to little Ricky Kimbrell talk on Rivals Radio about how Chow and Co. thought they had the best QB recruit in the southland. Even if it's true, without an O line that kid will be running for his life. Don't think top recruits like Evans don't see that. He may play right away at ucla but if the QB can't get him the ball why bother.
That SC was able to pull this kid with all the depth they already have at WR speaks volumes as to just how bad it is across town. Expectations have gone in a different direction over there as it is now a 5 year plan just to get to the top 15 "year in and year out". Sorry guys, you aren't getting to any BCS title games by just getting to the top 15. Heck Chow will gone in 3 years and Walker will probably bolt after two, if not after this season.The expectations across town will be on a sliding scale in order to protect the prodigal son. They don't EVER want to go through another Dorrell situation so no matter how bad it is they will hold their noses, cut Slick RIck some slack and hope for the best.
Enough about that, back to the rest of the conference.
I can't speak with enough authority in regards to Cal, ASU or Oregon, the three teams that were supposed to challenge SC for the Pac-10 title, but the losses they have incurred are no different than those SC has had in the past couple of years: not crippling, but not doing them any favors and potentially keeping them out of national title contention. USC is a national program so the difference for us when compared to others is that the expectations are higher for USC...we've been there and done that before and we want to get back. We are expected to be in the mix.But is it really that big a difference?
The other teams are trying to get there. Oregon has been coming close, but with quarterbacks like Spinal Tap drummers, there's a long way to go this season. Cal seems to have the players, but putting it together game in and game out isn't quite happening. And ASU is missing something as well - other than an offensive line that can keep Carpenter upright long enough to complete. Still, because the three obvious candidates to win the conference had a tough start to the season, people won't believe USC is legit until it gets through the entire Pac-10 slate, and does so convincingly. Everyone knows the pattern that SC has had in the past couple of years and if we are to be taken seriously USC has to break it.
USC has done their part so far with 2 dominant wins and is the only overall undefeated team in the Pac-10 but we have yet to start conference play. As we have seen in the past we are hardly immune to losing it against teams we could beat; if this team is truly different as Pete Carroll says, then it really shouldn't matter as things will work out. But if we stumble then we are really no different than the other top teams in the conference, full of potential but unable to seal the deal - no matter how much smoke people in the media blow in September.
I have no idea as to how it is going to turn out, SC simply needs to take care of business and do it in a convincing fashion. I can't and won't worry about the rest of the conference, they are on their own with their own issues to resolve, besides they wouldn't worry about us and would prefer to see us fall...